TORONTO – The Scottie Barnes-Jalen Suggs rookie battle was as advertised Friday night at Scotiabank Arena. But it was Gary Trent Jr., who ended up stealing the show for the Toronto Raptors, who hung on for a 110-109 win over the Orlando Magic.
Orlando used an 11-0 run to make it a one-point game with five seconds to play. The Magic inbounded to Cole Anthony, but Trent knocked the ball into the backcourt.
By the time Anthony retrieved it, he could only manage a heave from mid-court that was off the mark.
“I was pretty sure they were going to go to him,” Trent said. “I was just trying to make a play on the ball. I saw it was low and I swiped through. Obviously I had a chance to get it. In that situation, they can call a foul and it go either way.
“It was just being alert and having defensive instincts.”
Barnes had 21 points and nine rebounds and Trent added 19 points as the Raptors (3-3) salvaged a split of their four-game homestand. Fred VanVleet had 19 points and six assists for Toronto and OG Anunoby chipped in with 16 points.
Anthony scored 24 points, one of six Orlando players to hit double figures in scoring. Suggs had 21 points and Wendell Carter Jr., had 17.
The Raptors appeared to have things well in hand after a VanVleet three-pointer gave Toronto a 12-point lead — its largest of the game — with 2:04 to play.
But Suggs had six points over Orlando’s late run — including a rare four-point play — and Franz Wagner hit a three-pointer with 33 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Anunoby missed a three-pointer on Toronto’s next possession and Orlando called a timeout to draw up the final play.
“It wasn’t like total breakdown city,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “It was tough plays — one after another — that didn’t seem to go our way and it got them right back into the game.”
It was Toronto’s ninth straight win over Orlando, a streak that dates back to Feb. 24, 2019. The Magic (1-5) have dropped three games in a row.
The leadup to the game focused on the rookie battle between Barnes and Suggs, taken fourth and fifth respectively in the last NBA draft.
“Any time you go up against someone who was picked ahead of you, you know they were picked ahead of you,” Anthony said. “You’re not a competitor if you don’t think about stuff like that.”
Both players started the game and it was Barnes who made the early impact. He scored Toronto’s first seven points and added four rebounds in the first five minutes.
The Raptors closed out the opening quarter on a 9-0 run for a 23-20 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Barnes really got the attention of the sellout crowd of 19,800. He ran the length of the floor before delivering a one-handed dunk that gave Toronto a 30-25 edge.
“You see the things he does on the floor and it’s incredible,” Trent said. “He’s dunking in transition, he’s finding guys, he’s playing defence. He’s doing everything for us and helping us get wins.”
The Raptors struggled in the early going to contain Magic centre Mo Bamba, who had a double-double midway through the second quarter. Toronto was also poor from distance, hitting only three of 17 three-point attempts in the first half.
Barnes went to the locker-room area late in the second quarter after an eye poke but returned to start the third quarter.
Toronto took a 54-51 lead into the break. The game had 18 lead changes and the Magic held a 78-77 advantage entering the fourth.
Toronto native Dalano Banton had 10 points and provided some energy for the Raptors off the bench. He grabbed the rebound off a Suggs miss and ran the floor before finding Anunoby for a three-pointer that gave Toronto an 85-80 edge.
Anunoby followed with a three-pointer from the opposite corner before capping a personal 7-0 run with a dunk on Toronto’s next possession.
Suggs hit four of eight three-point attempts in the game and added four assists.
“We both did pretty well, I would say,” Barnes said. “Of course it’s a competition every time we play against each other. I would say it was fun.”
Bamba finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
Toronto shot 50 per cent overall, slightly ahead of Orlando at 47.1 per cent. The Magic had a 46-40 edge in rebounds.
The Raptors were coming off a win over Indiana on Wednesday for their first home victory in four tries this season. Toronto will take on the Pacers on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Notes: Toronto has a 54-39 all-time record against Orlando. … The Magic extended their streak of making at least one three-pointer to 1,135 games, a run that dates back to March 17, 2007. It’s the fifth longest streak in NBA history. … Magic forward Ignas Brazdeikis was born in Lithuania but grew up in Canada. He lived in Winnipeg and Toronto before settling in Oakville, Ont.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2021.
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